Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Book Bitches Interview with Jennifer Donnelly

Welcome, Jennifer! First off, I want to say what an honor it is to be given the chance to interview one of my favorite authors. I swear I kept grinning like cuckoo when I first received your email—and yes, folks, she sent me a copy of The Winter Rose. Expire of jealousy, you heathens! *MWAH HA HA HA HA* *choke*

Erm, I’m just saying, if you’d get a close up of my heart, all you’d see is a rainbow and inside my head would be Snoopy dancing... Her books are so wonderful and enchanting, and they moved and enriched me in some way, that I keep them on my “I want to be buried with these books” shelf, uh-mmm.

Let’s start with A Gathering Light (A Nothern Light’s British title), winner of the Carnegie Medal, UK’s most prestigious prize for children’s literature. I’m in LOVE with YA novels—big, big, BIIIIG fan. Jennifer, do you think adults should read books written for young adults? What would you say to encourage old fools who think, “Why would I read A Northern Light? It’s a YA book! That’s for kids, jeez loiuse!”? *eyeroll*


I absolutely believe that adults should read YA books! In fact, I’ll get right up on my soapbox about it. A Northern Light has become part of a reading phenomenon known as the crossover novel—a phenom that’s actually become a bit controversial. The controversy stems from the view that adults who take an interest in kids’ books are only indulging their Peter Pan complexes, or worse yet, dumbing themselves down.

Just because we choose to tote Harry Potter along on the morning commute, it doesn’t mean we’re regressing. It simply means we like Harry. He interests us. His world and his struggle to understand it interest us. Should we deny ourselves the pleasure of his company simply because he’s a kid and we’re not? The idea that books for and about young adults can only be of interest to young adults is absurd. It’s like telling a reader not to bother with Ulysses unless she’s Irish or Trainspotting unless he uses heroin. The stories we like define us. They embody our experiences, hopes, fears and dreams. Dismiss a person’s stories, and you dismiss that person. Books are not gated communities, they’re open and shimmering cities where we can all come and go at will, freely sampling other lives and times, other cultures and realities.


Soooo agree with you. Also, I believe YA books are more imaginative, have more upbeat stories and resolution compare to the “tidiness” of adult fiction—which makes them verra satisfying.

Why did you decide to interweave Mattie’s story with the true story of Grace Brown and her murder which happened in 1906?



It was important to me to show the impact of this incredibly wrong, incredibly sad death on a living girl, a local girl from the isolated, rural community in which the murder occurred. A girl who was poised on the brink of a huge decision—one that would involve either accepting other people’s ideas of what her life should be, or carving out her own path. I hoped that teenaged girls reading the book today might be inspired by Mattie’s example to confront the hard choices in their own lives.


Can you tell us what you did when you first found out you’re gonna be a published author? Did you treat yourself a new pair of expensive pritti shoes and then maybe went ice-creaming with someone special?


It took me ten long years to write my first novel, The Tea Rose. Ten long hard years of writing and rewriting, and writing some more. Usually at 4:30 am before I headed off to work. And at night. And on weekends. Vacations. There was a lot I didn’t do, a lot I sacrificed in order to keep writing. It was very bleak at times. There were many, many sleepless nights when I never thought I’d make it. So when I got that call, I got up from desk at my copywriting job and walked the cold winter streets of Manhattan, numb and disbelieving and beyond happy. Then I bought a bottle of good champagne, took it home, drank it down with my husband and danced on the dining room table.


Admit it, you danced with your hubby on top of the table, nekkid, didntcha? :P Heh. *ahem* From reading The Tea Rose, I gathered you believe in true love and soulmates... right? It seems like a silly question but seeing I’m a nosy Harlot, how did you know the first time you’ve found “true love”? What made you feel that this person, above all others, was the one you wanted to kiss good night every night for the rest of your life? *sigh*


I do believe in true love and soulmates. And how. My husband was my high school sweetheart. He had all the things high school girls look for—he was cute, with fabulous blue eyes, a knee-weakening smile and a fabulous butt. He was funny and kind and he smelled good. He still has all those things, and he still is all those things. And he still smells good, too!


Ohhh, your hubby sounds like a dreamboat. Does he have any single dreamboaty brother? *wiggling eyebrows* I swear it’s hard to find a good-smelling man with a pinchable butt who makes me smile. The other week I went out with this dude who smells of beets. Ack! Sorry, no fan of beets; that’d be Trollop. Maybe if he smells of avocados it might have been troo love between us. :/

Speaking of soulmates, Fiona and Joe came SO CLOSE to finding each other time after time after tiiiime I wanted to scream! AAAAHH!!! What would have happened to the two of them if they’d never been reunited?



Oh, forget it! That’s just too horrible to even consider!! Never ever for a second did I have any doubt that they would find each other again.


Just the thought of Fiona and Joe not finding each other again breaks my harloty heart. And it will be YOUR fault, hmph!

The second book in your “Rose” trilogy, The Winter Rose, will be released in the U.S. on January 8—today! There were times I loved it better than The Tea Rose, but there were things in it that really bothered me. *SPOILERS, SPOILERS ALERT!* *YE BE WARNED, HEATHENS WHO’VE YET TO READ THE WINTER ROSE!* Mostly, why did you decide to paralyze Joe?!? I know “it’s only fiction, Harlot...” but I couldn’t take it! Why did he and Fiona have to deal with this? *sob*



You know, I actually didn’t decide to do that. It just kind of happened. It’s not like I’m this horrible author-god tearing the wings off my characters. The story just kind of grows out of who they are, and what they want, and takes on a momentum of its own. So don’t blame me, blame that rotten Frankie Betts!

I’m thrilled to hear that you loved it better than The Tea Rose at times. As a writer, you want the reader to love the sequel, not to say “Wow. What a disaster. She should’ve left well enough alone.” Do you know who else loves The Winter Rose? Barbara Taylor Bradford. She is my total homegirl! A Woman of Substance is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it when I was thirteen. Though I really shouldn’t have, because it had racy bits. This is what BTB said about The Winter Rose: “I loved this book. It is truly seductive, hard to put down, filled with mystery, secret passions, unique locations, and a most engaging heroine. India Selwyn Jones is a new breed of woman in London in 1900, a doctor practicing in the grim East End, and she captivates from the first page to the last.” Shwing!!!!


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16 comment(s):

Blogger Shoshana said...

Harlot, he might be paralyzed, but he still can do 'it', so he's good as new. Makes him a stronger character I think...my beef is how long were India and Sid apart...I mean years and years! I feel like there's a whole book in the 'hole' right there.

Still, I wouldn't trade the story for anything else. Really, really love it.

1/08/2008 01:36:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I just couldn't believe that would happen to Joe. *sniff*

Well, i'm waiting for THE WINTER ROSE. Really love this series.

1/08/2008 02:00:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Ms. Donnelly, great interview. I've yet to read The Winter Rose but I'll get a copy soon.

1/08/2008 02:50:00 PM  

Blogger Marg said...

I'm one of those people who loved The Winter Rose more than The Tea Rose. Don't get me wrong..I enjoyed The Tea Rose, but I lurved The Winter Rose! Can't wait for The Wild Rose! When is it due to be released?

1/08/2008 03:19:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

Ladies, great interview.

I have to admit, I used to think A Gathering Light is a sequel to A Northern Light. LOL!

1/08/2008 03:37:00 PM  

Blogger Shoshana said...

Harlot, I thought you have Winter Rose already...

1/09/2008 05:33:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I meant THE WILD ROSE. Sorry.

1/09/2008 07:00:00 AM  

Blogger Petra said...

Fun interview. I eagerly await the third book in the Rose series.

1/09/2008 09:31:00 AM  

Blogger Jennifer Donnelly said...

I think this is working! I think I'm actually posting! I feel so, so...21st century!

So glad you gals love the series! I wanted the books to be big, dramatic, rip-roaring, old-fashioned epics. Not everyone gets that. I'm so glad you do.

Alas, Marg...The Wild Rose is still only in the plotting stages. I've got to get a new Young Adult finished before too much longer, or I will be shot!

(No diss on my wonderful publishers there. Really, they're like a family to me...the Sopranos family!)

1/09/2008 02:00:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Ms. Donnelly! So excited to see you here. :D

I have already said it but will say it again: I loved, loved, loved The Tea Rose.

I'm excited you're writing another YA book. Yay! We don't want you to be shot (we need more books written by you!) plus your first YA book A Northern Light is simply brilliant. :)

1/09/2008 02:24:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/09/2008 02:30:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

Miss Donnelly, I have to tell you, I eagerly awaited The Wild Rose last year. I can't wait to read about Seamie and Willa and hopefully, more about Joe and Fiona. What can I say? You have created a wonderful tale about very interesting characters. I simply love the Rose books.

1/09/2008 02:32:00 PM  

Blogger Shoshana said...

big, dramatic, rip-roaring, old-fashioned epics.

All that and more! I want a boxed set of these books. It's going to sit right next to my (opps daughter's) HP boxed set.

1/10/2008 12:07:00 AM  

Blogger Jennifer Donnelly said...

Shucks! Thanks, guys. Your kind comments mean a lot to me. Usually I have only my imaginary friends for company while I write, and it's been really nice to chat with you all instead!

1/10/2008 10:45:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Jennifer,

Thank you for being part of our little blog. And you know, Harlot can loan you some of her imaginary friends. She has a ton of them LOL

1/10/2008 11:50:00 AM  

Blogger Petra said...

Ms. Donnelly, thanks to the Book Bitches pushing (ahem) I am another fan of yours and I think your Rose trilogy is wonderful. I eagerly await The Wild Rose. :)

1/10/2008 05:45:00 PM